PITTSBURGH—For the fourth time in program history, the Pitt men’s basketball team was selected by league coaches as the preseason favorite at the Big East Conference’s annual media day Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. Additionally, junior guard Ashton Gibbs earned preseason First Team All-Big East honors.
In a vote of league coaches, Pitt finished first with 12 first place votes and 222 total points. Following Pitt, Villanova was second with 208 points and one first place vote and Syracuse finished third with 187 points and two first place votes. Georgetown was picked fourth (173), West Virginia fifth (164), St. John’s sixth (145) and Notre Dame seventh (123).
Pitt was also selected as the Big East favorite in 1987-88, 2002-03 and 2006-07.
A Scotch Plains, N.J. native, Gibbs was one of six players named to the preseason All-Big East First Team. Last year, Gibbs earned the Big East Most Improved Player Award and was named a Second Team All-Big East selection. The 6-2 junior led the Panthers in scoring with a 15.7 points per game average and led the league in free throw percentage (88.4 percent). He enters the season as an Academic All-America candidate.
Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon along with seniors Gilbert Brown, Gary McGhee and Brad Wanamaker represented the Panthers in New York City.
Fans will get their first glimpse of the 2010-11 Pitt Basketball team when it hosts its annual Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Friday at the Petersen Events Center. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Seating is general admission and fans are urged to move close to the court. Parking is available for $5.00 in the OC Lot. For the first time in school history, the Blue-Gold Scrimmage will be televised live by Pitt Panthers Television on The Comcast Network (Channels 188 or 210, depending on where viewers reside). Voice of the Panthers Bill Hillgrove, along with Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon will call action. Following the Blue-Gold Scrimmage, Pitt will host a slam dunk contest, along with an Oakland Zoo event, which is open to all Pitt students.
Pitt returns four of five starters, seven of its top eight scorers, 86 percent of its scoring and 88 percent of its rebounding from a 2009-10 team that concluded its season with a 25-9 overall record, a second consecutive second place finish in the Big East Conference, the school’s ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and a No. 3 seed upon entering the tourney. Pitt was picked to finish ninth in last year’s Big East preseason coaches’ poll.
Pitt’s first exhibition game is on Sunday, Oct. 31 against Northwood University, Fla. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.
2010-11 PRESEASON BIG EAST COACHES POLL
Rk Team (first place votes) Points
1 Pittsburgh (12) 222
2.Villanova (1) 208
3.Syracuse (2) 187
5.West Virginia 164
6.St. John’s (1) 145
7.Notre Dame 123
11.Seton Hall 104
12. Cincinnati 91
2010-11 PRESEASON BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Austin Freeman, Georgetown
2010-11 PRESEASON BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Fab Melo, Syracuse
2010-11 PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST TEAM
Austin Freeman, Georgetown, G, Sr, 6-3, 227, Mitchellville, Md.
Kemba Walker, Connecticut, G, Jr., 6-1, 172, Bronx, N.Y.
Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh, G, Jr., 6-2, 190, Scotch Plains, N.Y.
Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall, G, Sr., 6-5, 188, Bronx, N.Y.
Corey Fisher, Villanova, G, Sr., 6-1, 200, Bronx, N.Y.
Kevin Jones, West Virginia, F, Jr., 6-8, 255, Mount Vernon, N.Y.
2010-11 PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST SECOND TEAM
Chris Wright, Georgetown, G, Sr., 6-1, 208, Washington, D.C.
Jimmy Butler, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-7, 220, Tomall, Texas
Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame, F, Sr., 6-8, 235, Unionville, Conn.
D.J. Kennedy, St. John’s, G/F, Sr., 6-5, 214, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse, F, Jr., 6-7, 207, Montreal, Quebec
2010-11 PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST HONORABLE MENTION
Yancy Gates, Cincinnati, F, Sr., 6-9, 260, Cincinnati, Ohio
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, G, Jr., 6-2, 215, Raleigh, N.C.
Rick Jackson, Syracuse, F, Sr., 6-9, 240, Philadelphia, Pa.
*denotes unanimous selection